Juicero is a self-parodying high-tech juicing machine that raised millions in venture capital on the promise of delivering a highly calibrated squeeze to a pack of mulch sold in expensive, DRM-locked pouches, for a mere $400.
The juicer was billed as "providing enough force to life two Teslas" by its founder, Doug Evans, who previously founded Organic Avenue, a chain of juice bars selling eye-wateringly expensive "cold pressed" juice in mason jars, to the delight of the kingmaking queen of woo, Gwyneth Paltrow.
However, it turns out that you can just squeeze the pouches with your bare hands and get approximately the same amount of juice out of the pouches, in less time, without shelling out $400 or giving up a huge whack of counterspace.
Evans raised money without demonstrating a working prototype, getting his millions from Alphabet (that is, Google) and Kleiner Perkins.
But after the product's introduction last year, at least two Juicero investors were taken aback after finding the packs could be squeezed by hand. They also said the machine was much bigger than what Evans had proposed. One of the investors said they were frustrated with how the company didn't deliver on the original pitch and that their venture firm wouldn't have met with Evans if he were hawking bags of juice that didn't require high-priced hardware. Juicero didn't broadly disclose to investors or employees that packs can be hand squeezed, said four people with knowledge of the matter.
Doug Chertok, a Juicero investor, said he figured it out on his own. "There is no doubt the packs can be squeezed without the machine," he said. "I'm still a huge fan." Chertok, whose Vast Ventures is also a backer of popular organic restaurant chain Sweetgreen, said Juicero's approach to delivering cheap organic produce could be valuable. He said the company is a "platform" for a new model of food delivery, where fresh fruits and veggies are delivered regularly to the home. "Juicero is still figuring out its sweet spot," he said. "I have no doubt that they'll be very successful."
Silicon Valley's $400 Juicer May Be Feeling the Squeeze
[Ellen Heut and Olivia Zaleski/Bloomberg]